We discuss many taboos in our community, most of which revolve around our genitalia. But not all. Another taboo topic that we discuss a lot is mental health.
Times are changing, and the taboo is decreasing, but it is still very hush-hush. There is no denying that. Many of our community members are struggling because two of the biggest concerns in their life – pelvic health and mental health – are still only being discussed behind closed doors and whispered about in dark corners. Things will change for future generations; I have confidence in that, but what about us? When do we get to shout, ‘actually, we aren’t ok’?
What has changed…why now?
One of the reasons this topic seems so prevalent right now is that the summer holidays have reached an end. It’s a bitter-sweet time for many. That combination of missing time with our children and the relief that we no longer have to be superheroes. Because let’s face it. Any parent still working (whether full or part-time) and looking after the children while running the house must be superhuman. And even if you aren’t working, that is just as hard because there is no escapism. Our children suddenly become a 24/7 fixture in our lives; simply put, that is not easy for most of us.
The other massive problem we face nowadays (at risk of sounding like a grumpy old woman) is that the media encourages us all to be martyrs. Praise is dished out left, right, and centre to parents (not just women, I must add) that can ‘do it all’ without suffering a complete meltdown. Of course, a certain level of pride should be felt because it’s tough but let’s not glamorise this culture of pushing ourselves to complete burnout. Burnout is not something we should promote. So instead of encouraging each other to do more and push ourselves harder, let’s encourage each other to ask for help and speak up when things have got too much. That is what we should all be striving for.
Let’s discuss burnout
https://mentalhealth-uk.org/ describes burnout as the following: ‘A state of physical and emotional exhaustion. It can occur when you experience long-term stress in your job or have worked in a physically or emotionally draining role for a long time.’
This ‘role’ can be as a parent. Yep, ‘parent burnout’ is happening every day; most of us have experienced it at some point. Why? Because being a parent is hard. Fact. And it is ok to admit that. Parental burnout is a condition where we are so exhausted that we feel we have nothing left to give.
Common signs of burnout include:
As parents, we place ridiculously high expectations on ourselves. And for many, as time goes on and those expectations increase, feelings of inadequacy, confusion, and isolation can start to manifest; in fact, they are very common. Sadly, we don’t always notice that burnout is happening until we reach breaking point. Burnout results from prolonged stress where the demands placed upon ourselves outweigh our ability to meet expectations…the expectations we have created. Cases increased dramatically over the past couple of years due to Covid. Covid saw considerable changes in many people’s lives, and although burnout was present before the pandemic, it made it significantly worse for many of us. Parents lost jobs, houses, and income, and many had to homeschool multiple children without training. This pressure led to additional stress and anxiety.
But what is the solution? How can we continue to parent the way we want without juggling too many balls? How can we prevent ourselves from experiencing complete burnout?
Building a support network is crucial. Most of us have partners, family members or friends that we can speak to, so take advantage of that. I am positive they will want to help and would be devastated if they knew you were trying to cope alone. There are in-person and online parenting groups for those without a support network close to home. You may not realise it, but everything you are thinking and feeling, hundreds if not thousands of other parents are thinking and feeling too. I promise you are not alone.
Lack of sleep significantly contributes to stress of any kind, particularly burnout. None of us can cope with the challenges that life throws at us without sufficient sleep. That doesn’t make us ‘weak’; it makes us human. So, when, where and how possible, try to catch as many zzzzs as you can. This may seem impossible, but even a twenty-minute power nap at some point in the day can make things just that little bit easier to cope with. So please, if you can, prioritise yourself and your sleep needs. Because trust me, a good night’s sleep is life-changing.
Exercise increases energy levels and reduces stress. It releases endorphins…our happy drug! So, what is there not to love about exercise? It has so many health benefits and can be free, which means no additional financial burden to throw into the mix. Win-win.
Most importantly…be kind to yourself
Although burnout isn’t ‘normal’, it is common, and at some point in our lives, most of us will experience it. Raising children is both rewarding and challenging, and feeling exhausted is likely to happen. Recognising the symptoms of parental burnout can help us to help ourselves before things get worse.
Please ask for help if you need it. Promise yourself that you deserve that because you are a good parent, just one that finds it hard. And most of us can relate. Take a few minutes, and give yourself a chance to breathe. Don’t feel guilty for prioritising your own needs sometimes. It doesn’t make you a bad parent to focus on yourself from time to time. In fact, self-care may help you be a better parent…a happier one!
Remember that the Pelvic Power Movement Community isn’t just there to support you with your pelvic health concerns. It is also a place for friendship. Come and join us, and let’s help you regain control over your life again Pelvic Power Movement Community | Facebook.